Computer Disposal The Safe and Easy Way — Quick Reference

Your computer is less than five years old and it’s in working condition Donate or sell the computer to a qualified refurbisher. There are hundreds of nonprofit computer refurbishers in the U.S. If you have a computer that’s less than five years old and still in working condition, they’ll wipe the hard drive, install an operating system, upgrade some of the components if need be and then give the computer to a school, nonprofit or low-income family. If you’re considering a donation to a school or nonprofit, it’s often easier for everyone if you give to a nonprofit refurbisher instead. Otherwise, the school or nonprofit will waste a lot of time upgrading components and installing software. Furthermore, they’ll eventually have a patchwork of mismatched hardware that they can’t support. To find a refurbisher near you, look at the Microsoft Authorized Refurbisher (MAR) database. MAR refurbishers donate some or all of their refurbished equipment to schools and nonprofits. If you can’t find a MAR refurbisher in your area, try TechSoup’s directory of refurbishers and recyclers or search My Green Electronics.
Your computer is more than five years old or it’s damaged beyond repair Find a commercial recycler. If your computers are more than five years old, or if they’re no longer in working condition, you should find a qualified recycler who can dismantle the machine and dispose of the parts in an environmentally friendly fashion. You’ll usually have to pay a small fee to the recycler (anywhere from $5 to $30). Again, TechSoup has a searchable directory of recyclers as does My Green Electronics. The Basel Action Network maintains a list of electronics recyclers, who have agreed to abide by a strict set of criteria regarding how they dispose of e-waste and who does the work.
You could really use some extra cash. Sell the computer at a yard sale or auction. If your old computers are in working condition, you may be able to sell them, as long as you’ve reviewed the relevant regulations. Don’t expect a huge windfall of cash, but you might recoup somewhere between $25 and $100 per machine. Your local government may sell the computers for you at an auction, or you might get some money from a refurbisher, or you might sell them at your annual book sale. Again, be careful to obey the relevant regulations.